Newbie Filtertron Question Regarding Pole Height

Discussion in 'The Pickup Place' started by bdub415, Jun 29, 2020.

  1. bdub415

    bdub415 Electromatic

    5
    Jun 29, 2020
    California
    Hey everyone! I just got my first gretsch and have a question regarding the pickups.

    It's a pre fmic gretsch with the ceramic filtertrons. The bass strings were a bit boomy through my amp so I raised the pole screws on the treble side and lowerd the bass side to even things out. It sounds way better and I was quite surprised to find that raising/lowering the pole screws really impacts the sound that much.

    My question is this: a few of the poles on the treble side I can see a few threads from the screw. Previously I only was able to see the head of the screw, no threads. I'm just going by ear here and it sounds good to me so far. Is it generally accepted that there is a certain height that you shouldn't exceed on the filtertron pole screws? Can you keep raising them until threads are really showing or would I see diminishing returns here? Just trying to save some time doing trial and error since the pickups themselves can't be adjusted. Thanks!
     
  2. audept

    audept Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Age:
    72
    Dec 1, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    Welcome to the forum, bdub415 ! You will get some excellent advice from knowledgeable forum members soon.
    Welcome mat surfboards.jpg
     
  3. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    usa
    audept likes this.
  4. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    You can try and see how it goes, you won't be break anything unscrewing the pole pieces. I think you would waste more time using someone else's adjustments for your ears, than trying for yourself. Spending a few minutes to get the most from your guitar and the sound that you want is not a waste of time imo.

    There is always diminishing returns, yet people still buy the fancy stuff; whatever floats your boat.
     
  5. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    usa
    Most folks new to Gretsch and Filertrons don't know squat about adjusting a Filter correctly.

    Nothing wrong with that, it's something new to them. I was in this spot too.

    The fun starts at adjusting a Filter the same way one would adjust a PAF Bucker that they have experience doing. Nothing good comes out of this except a bad sounding Filter.

    TV's guide is a great starting point for ANY Filter. Doesn't have to be "fancy stuff ." TV has just shared his decades of Filter experience, and a good place "to start "

    This starting point isn't just "someone elses adjustments," it's just simply a place to start.

    Personally, I remember the time when pup makers didn't share or publish specs like this. They wanted theirs to sound the best! Lol

    Agree that it's never a waste of time to tweek a pup to one's ears happiness. But a good point to start sure does help.

    @bdub415 Just don't force things when adjusting. You'll know when you hit the sweet spot. You'll be grinning.

    Best of luck
     
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  6. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    My point about fancy stuff is that everything has diminishing returns, and that whether those returns are worth it depends on each individual; for some, it is worth it so they get the fancy stuff, for others the fancy stuff is not worth an extra penny.
     
    G5422T likes this.
  7. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    usa
    Agree with that.
     
    Henry likes this.
  8. bdub415

    bdub415 Electromatic

    5
    Jun 29, 2020
    California
    Appreciate the info guys. I think I'll use that guide as a good starting point and tweak from there. I actually screwed them all the way down and then did half turns for each pole until it sounded good and wrote it down so I can always go back to that.

    Coming from a gibson/fender background I'm blown away at how awesome filtertrons sound. All the filtertron clips online and even my ceramics sound amazing. I can't believe I've never even heard of them until recently and i've been playing for 15+ years
     
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  9. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    I have no experience with ceramic FTs. I suspect they have more magnet strength (gauss) than AlNiCo versions. This is what changes the sound, but you could just lower the pickup to compensate for that, getting a “AlNiCo” response. This will ignore TVJs pickup advice, which frankly is only for his A5 Filtertron style pickups. Strangely, he advices the same thing for things like T-Armonds, which makes no sense to me. I adjust by my ears on those..

    You should have plenty of thread under the pickup, and don’t worry about the pickup falling apart because you extended the poles to the point of removal. If you like tall pole screws, cool. There are no hard rules.

    Why can’t you adjust the pickup height? That’s a big part of the equation too, ceramic mags or not. Granted, you need to use pieces of foam and wood shims to get you in the ball park.
     
  10. bdub415

    bdub415 Electromatic

    5
    Jun 29, 2020
    California
    Interestingly I listened to a demo on youtube with the ceramic filtertron pickups and the person added the shims to raise them and I actually liked the sound better before he raised them. Maybe it's because the ceramic versions are stronger? Also, the bass was really boomy on my guitar already so I feel like raising them might make it worse unless I just raise the treble side.

    Do any of you guys with regular filtertrons notice that the pole pieces don't quite align perfectly on the bridge pickup for some strings? My neck pickup is dead on but the bridge pickup isn't perfectly centered on a few strings. Is this normal with filtertrons or is this a pre fmic quirk?
     
  11. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    Toronto
    If it's still boomy, you can try lowering the body of the pickup and raising the poles. (That's assuming that the pickup already has a shim that you can remove. If the pickup is as low as it can go, that's another story.)

    If you really want to get fancy, you can experiment with a magnet swap. Philadelphia Luthier sells Alnico 5 Filtertron magnets for about $5 each. I've never opened up a ceramic Filtertron, but if they're built like modern Filtertrons, it shouldn't be too hard to get inside and try out a new magnet.
     
  12. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    usa
    This is a "Gretsch thing".

    Vintage, ceramic, and HS Filters have the same pole spacing for both pups.

    TV Jones started his line years back using wider pole spacing on the bridge pup. His Ray Butts version goes back to the vintage spacing which is the same for both.

    Just a FYI, vintage bridge and neck pups were the same pup assembly. There wasn't a designated bridge and neck pup as we have today.

    Best to you adjusting yours. Time well spent.
     
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